GOP loyalty: Primary pledge draws mixed reaction among local Republicans

Donald Trump has tweeted his objections about the affirmation that must be signed to vote in Virginia's March 1 Republican primary.
Photo: Amanda Maglione Donald Trump has tweeted his objections about the affirmation that must be signed to vote in Virginia’s March 1 Republican primary. Photo: Amanda Maglione

Virginia has a history of parties requiring primary voters to affirm they’re loyal Democrats or Republicans. However, three African-American pastors who are Donald Trump supporters filed a lawsuit claiming the pledge required by the state GOP—“My signature below indicates I am a Republican”—will discourage minorities and the poor from voting in the March 1 primary.

Just ahead of absentee ballots going out, federal Judge Heather Lauck refused to issue a preliminary injunction January 14 to halt the pledge, a requirement Trump has loudly lambasted.

On December 27, he tweeted, “It begins, Republican Party of Virginia, controlled by the RNC, is working hard to disallow independent, unaffiliated and new voters. BAD!”

“If someone refuses to sign the Republican affirmation, they can’t vote in the Republican primary,” says Charlottesville Electoral Board member Rick Sincere.

State code allows parties to use pledges, says Sincere, and both Democrats and Republicans have used them in the past.

At the polls on primary day, voters will be asked in which primary they want to vote, says Sincere. Once a voter has asked for a Republican ballot, “it’s a matter of public record,” he says.

Because Virginia has an open primary, there’s nothing to keep members of one party voting in another’s primary, says Geoffrey Skelley with UVA’s Center for Politics. In 2000, the state GOP “had a pledge for voters to sign promising to not participate in the nominating process of another party in the hopes of discouraging such behavior,” he says.

Reaction among city Republicans has been divided, according to Barbara Null, chair of the Republican Party of Charlottesville and co-chair for the Ted Cruz campaign in the 5th District. “This whole thing could be avoided if we registered by party in Virginia.”

“It’s not an oath,” says Albemarle County Republican Committee Chair Cindi Burket. “It’s an affirmation that people voting in the Republican primary are Republicans.” She says she’s telling party members it won’t inhibit their right to vote.

Bedford developer Jim McKelvey, who is the 5th District co-chair for the Trump campaign and a candidate for the congressional seat, is not a pledge supporter. “I simply think [the Republican Party of Virginia] is attempting to manipulate the system against a couple of candidates they don’t want,” he says. “I think we’ve got a couple of candidates that scare them to death.”

It’s tough to say whether the pledge will have any outcome on the primary in Virginia, says Skelley. “My understanding is that the pledge is not legally binding, so there’s little to stop someone who doesn’t consider herself a Republican from signing it and voting anyway,” he says. “However, it could dissuade some people from voting because they don’t want to sign something that might be viewed as a lie.”

Posted In:     News

Tags:     , , , , ,

Previous Post

Dominion to dump in Virginia rivers

Next Post

Eye on the door: Hurt heading back to Chatham



Our comments system is designed to foster a lively debate of ideas, offer a forum for the exchange of ad hoc information, and solicit honest, respectful feedback about the work we do. We’re glad you’re participating. Here are a few simple rules to follow, which should be relatively straightforward.

1) Don’t call people names or accuse them of things you cannot support.
2) Don’t direct foul language, racial slurs, or offensive terms at other commenters or our staff.
3) Don’t use the discussion on our site for commercial (or shameless personal) promotion.

We reserve the right to remove posts and ban commenters who violate any of the rules listed above, or the spirit of the discussion. We’re trying to create a safe space for a wide range of people to express themselves, and we believe that goal can only be achieved through thoughtful, sensitive editorial control.

If you have questions or comments about our policies or about a specific post, please send an e-mail to editor@c-ville.com.

1
Leave a Reply

avatar
0 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
0 Comment authors
Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of